Movember is halfway over—and from pencil-thin caterpillars to handlebar styles, moustaches of all shapes and sizes are sprouting up on faces on campus. But as we see more facial hair grow, we can’t help but wonder: Is Movember accomplishing the goals it was created to achieve? Is it rais- ing money for prostate cancer research, or is it just becoming a reason for men to grow a mo?
As a part of the global Movember movement, Canada has earned the most money so far. According to Movember. com, Canadians raised $22.3 million last year and over $17 million in this year’s campaign so far, the majority of which goes to Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC) and The Movember Foundation.
Yet many of us know men who are growing a moustache in “support” of the cause who don’t ask for donations or pledges. People can also donate to the campaign by going to end-of-the-month Movember parties—but once again, we ask: Is this being done in the name of cancer research? Or are bars and clubs just cashing in on the event to make money on drinks?
The problem we have with Movember—which is a good idea in principle—is how the campaign has evolved. The idea that a man’s exposure to prostate cancer, which will claim 4,100 lives this year, could be reduced by men choosing not to shave trivializes the life-threatening disease.
According to PCC, one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. This means serious busi ness for men—and it’s serious business for women who, if they want to support the cause, have limited options.
A woman can support her male friends financially or draw a moustache on her finger and put it on top of her lip. Or—as our mostly female editorial board learned when we went online to find out more about the cause—we could have sex with moustached men.
That’s right—a clip on YouTube.com, with over one million views, involves women telling other women that in or- der to support prostate cancer, we should use the only thing we’re apparently good for: Our vaginas.
Obviously the clip is meant to be co- medic, but once again, it trivializes the disease (as well as women’s issues at large, stating “You’re not a whore if it’s for charity!”).
Some people argue that even if the moustaches aren’t getting money out of all the participants, at least the campaign is raising awareness.
Granted, awareness is important in that we can’t fix a problem we don’t know exists, but awareness alone isn’t enough to make an impact on disease.
When we think about awareness, we usually think about being aware of social phenomena—like being aware animal cruelty exists or that our words aren’t politically correct. Awareness is impor- tant when we need to change society’s attitudes about something, but when it comes to disease, we need more than that—we need education.
Education can happen through various channels. Through health programs for young adults, organized school curriculums, or government-organized initiatives, we could educate Canadians about cancer.
All of these initiatives require fund- ing for prostate cancer studies—the primary, though perhaps misinterpreted, goal of Movember. But education can also be free. Educating others can be as simple as men supporting Movember by talking about the issues surrounding prostate cancer.
We’re not against having fun while supporting a cause. We are, however, against the trivialization of a life-threatening disease. The “fun” in “fundraising” should be happening while the goal of the movement succeeds, not in spite of it.
Out of the $22.3 million that was raised last year, only two per cent went to men’s health awareness and educa- tion. When we hear about the “walking billboards” these men’s faces become throughout November, it means very little if moustached men don’t think seri- ously about why they’re sporting mous- taches.
When it comes to diseases, we need to do more than make people aware they exist: We need education, research, and a cure.
So we’re calling out to everyone who’s supporting the Movember movement— be the change you want to see. Educate yourself on the issues surrounding male health. Share your reasons for partici- pating with your friends. Because to jump on the moustache bandwagon without actually supporting the cause doesn’t help anyone.
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